A trial was carried out on acidotic infants recovering from neonatal asphyxia, on the relative effects of intragastric and intravenous sodium bicarbonate on acid/base balance.
Intragastric bicarbonate caused an increased rate of correction of metabolic acidosis within 30 minutes of administration. However, the Pco2 remained higher in these patients than in the controls, so that the effect of the bicarbonate on rate of pH correction was negligible. The rise in Pco2 occurred despite apparently normal respiratory function.
A similar limitation of pH rise by a sustained rise in Pco2 was evident in the intravenously treated patients.
Treatment of metabolic acidosis in neonates with sodium bicarbonate may not produce the desired correction of pH.
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